What’s Trending, YouTube Music Awards and the rise of social TV

IMG_0857Back in 2011 online host Shira Lazar started her own show on  US network  CBS called What’s Trending. The title was fairly self explanatory – it looked at the people and the topics that were causing a stir online.

Unfortunately, sometimes the thing causing the stir was the show itself, such as when rapper Lupe Fiasco declared President Obama a terrorist live on air, or when a junior staffer mistakenly tweeted that Steve Jobs had died. The latter incident caused CBS to end its association with the programme.The ‘Jobs incident’ and departure from CBS led to a bit of rebranding from What’s Trending. It’s now a daily live webshow that focuses almost entirely on curating the best, worst, weirdest, and most widely shared videos across YouTube. Given that about 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, this is no mean feat. Every day Lazar and her co-hosts interview the biggest name in web video live, then chop up the whole show and put it on-demand online.

I’ve watched the show ever since it started, and so was very excited to be go and watch it being filmed when it rolled into London’s YouTube creater space to celebrate the first YouTube Music Awards. There was loads of cool young things bustling around with camera’s and smartphones, but the first thing tha really struck me was just how professional the whole What’s Trending setup is. You would not know the difference between this web production and a mainstream TV set up.  Lazar and her team are obsessed with their audience, interacting with them constantly whilst on air in the chatroom and on Twitter.

Presenter Shira Lazar check into the What's Trending chatroom during the live show.

Presenter Shira Lazar check into the What’s Trending chatroom during the live show.

The other thing that is noticeable, and might seem odd given these people come from all around the world, is the sense of community these YouTubers, and particularly YouTube musicians, have. People were greeting each other in the halls with friendly “hi, we met in LA, how are you?” and just hanging around after the show. All the musicians performing on the show stayed around and cheered for their contemporaries.


AJ Rafel and Rex Pearson perform together during What’s Trending live.

From “My Drunk Kitchen’s Hannah Hart, to singer AJ Rafael Young, to What’s Trending itself, talented, bright people are bypassing commissioning editors and record companies, and letting viewers decided what they are interested in. In an age when we  all finding more and more ways to avoid watching adverts on TV, marketers could do a lot worse than to look at the social TV revolution that What’s Trending and its community of performers are brining about.

You can watch the whole of the YouTube music awards below: